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Uncovering the Facts in the Boston Bombing

Tuesday April 30, 2013

tsarnaevOn April 15, two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264. After several days with a city on edge and police on the hunt, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly took the life of a police officer before leading authorities on a chase through the outskirts of the city. The older brother, Tamerlan, was killed and Dzhokhar was nabbed the next day hiding underneath the tarp of a boat. As more is revealed about the family, their ties to the Caucasus region, and the brothers' extremist views, officials are delving into how they fell through the national security cracks and whether they had outside help in staging the attack. Russia tipped off U.S. authorities to Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, but FBI officials likely regarded the tip with some suspicion as Moscow has been known to target human rights activists and political opponents. They cleared him after an interview process but still had tabs on him as he left the country for the Caucasus region in 2012.

An update on the case from ABC News:

Accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have been in touch with suspected militants before and during his visit last year to southern Russia, according to a U.S. official and sources in the region.

American officials are investigating whether Tsarnaev had been in contact over the internet with a man named William Plotnikov, a Russian-Canadian and a fellow boxer, who had converted to Islam and joined the militant insurgency in the North Caucasus. Authorities also want to know what Tsarnaev was doing with a known militant recruiter in the region named Mansur Mukhamed Nidal with whom Tsarnaev was repeatedly seen leaving a controversial mosque in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

The new leads come as the FBI's investigation into the deadly April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon continues to expand and follows the discovery of female DNA on one of the bombs, according to government sources. The sources said it is unclear whether the DNA was from a victim of the attack, from someone who handled components of the bomb before it was assembled or from a possible co-conspirator of the suspected Tsarnaev brothers.

In addition to identifying the woman in question, people briefed on the case said the FBI reportedly is now seeking information on almost a dozen persons of interest.

Some Famous Speeches of the Century So Far

Tuesday April 30, 2013

aungtime"Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world. There was the house which was my world, there was the world of others who also were not free but who were together in prison as a community, and there was the world of the free; each was a different planet pursuing its own separate course in an indifferent universe. What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me." -- Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese democracy leader

"At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know - all of us know - that the Gospel's word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy." -- Pope Benedict XVI's farewell address

"We have now been through nearly a decade of war. We have endured a long and painful recession. And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we are trying to build for our nation - a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity may seem beyond our reach. But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment." -- President Obama at the end of the Iraq War

Relive some of the key addresses from this young century here.

Current and Past Presidents React to NBA Player Coming Out

Tuesday April 30, 2013

collinsNBA player Jason Collins stole headlines both in the U.S. and outside the county by coming out as gay in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated:

I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

...No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.

This may have been just a sports story but came during a time of greater debate in the U.S. about same-sex marriage and other issues of gay rights. Former President Bill Clinton issued a statement supporting Collins, and President Obama called Collins and gave a lengthy statement praising the basketball player.

"For I think a lot of young people out there who, you know, are, you know, gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues to see a role model like that, who's unafraid, I think it's a great thing. And I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. And everybody's part of a family. And we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation. So I'm very proud of him," Obama said at a press conference.

MORE: Sports and Culture

Vatican: Don't Expect Heavy Reforms Too Soon

Tuesday April 30, 2013

popefrancisPope Francis has made clear that he wants to reform many things at the Holy See, but the Vatican is cautioning that expectations shouldn't get too high too soon. From the AP:

Monsignor Angelo Becciu, under-secretary of the Vatican secretariat of state, said it was "absolutely premature to put forward any hypothesis" about the reform and that Francis was still in a "listening" and discerning phase.

Cardinals who elected Francis pope in March insisted that fixing the Curia, as the Vatican bureaucracy is known, was a top concern. They want the Vatican, which is known for its slow pace and aloof attitude, to be more efficient and responsive to the needs of church leaders in the field.

Leaks of papal documents last year exposed the Curia as a dysfunctional Italian family business full of petty turf battles, political intrigues and corrupt business practices.

In his first major act as pope, Francis on April 13 named eight cardinals from around the globe to advise him on running the church and carrying out the reform, which includes a rewriting of the main Vatican legislation outlining the work of the various Vatican departments and offices. They aren't due to meet until October, though Francis is in touch with them.

The appointment of the "Group of Eight," as the cardinals have been dubbed, was a major initiative that showed that Francis was responding both to the calls for reform and for a greater voice in Vatican decision-making from church leaders on the ground.

Becciu acknowledged in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that Francis' decision to appoint the advisers was enormously significant.

"Let's not forget that their primary job is to help the pontiff govern the universal church," Becciu said. "I don't want the curiosity over the Roman Curia to put in second place the profoundness of the pope's gesture."

MORE: Religion in World News

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